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Saints' Brandin Cooks among 2014 rookie WRs making mark

If last weekend is any indication, the 2014 wide receiver class is on its way to living up to its advance billing.

Five wide receivers were selected in the first round and 33 receivers were selected overall in the '14 draft, and a number of those rookies had big games last weekend.Nine rookies had at least 75 receiving yards -- an NFL rookie record for one weekend -- and two others had at least 60.

The five receivers taken in the first round -- the New York Giants' Odell Beckham, the Carolina Panthers' Kelvin Benjamin, the New Orleans Saints' Brandin Cooks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans and the Buffalo Bills' Sammy Watkins -- are averaging 30 receptions for 395 yards and 3.4 touchdowns. The first two numbers are dragged down by Beckham, who has just 10 receptions for 106 yards, but also three touchdowns.

Benjamin, Cooks and Watkins are the biggest producers among the rookies. Each has at least 38 receptions and 372 yards. Cooks leads with 40 catches, and Benjamin and Watkins have 38 each. Watkins leads in yardage with 590, while Benjamin has 571 and Cooks 372. Benjamin and Watkins also have five touchdowns each.

Benjamin, Cooks and Watkins are on the midseason all-rookie team, which does not include a tight end because "the deepest class of pass-catchers in eons has fully delivered."

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks has Benjamin -- whom he called "a Plaxico Burress clone" -- as the midseason offensive rookie of the year. "He hasn't even scratched the surface of that he can be . . . as a player," Brooks said. Brooks also said Benjamin's main challengers for the honor are Cooks and Watkins.

Watkins is 12th in the league in receiving yards despite the quarterback turmoil with the Bills; Benjamin is 14th in that category. And Cooks is 17th in the league in receptions. Benjamin also is ninth in the league with nine catches of at least 20 yards. Interestingly, two undrafted rookies, the Cleveland Browns' Taylor Gabriel and the Jacksonville Jaguars' Allen Hurns, are tied for seventh in the league with three catches of at least 40 yards.

In all, four rookies have at least 38 receptions -- the aforementioned trio of first-rounders, plus second-rounder Allen Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars -- and 10 rookie wide receivers have at least 20 receptions (so does one rookie tight end and two rookie running backs). Eight rookie wide receivers have at least 300 yards in receptions.

In addition, rookie wide receivers have accounted for 38 touchdown catches; last season's rookie crop set the NFL record with 58 TD catches, so the class of '14 is on its way to breaking that mark.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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